Wasting away again in $977-ville

March 16, 2017 § 14 Comments

Last night the very sad denizens of Palos Verdes Estates swarmed the city council chambers to mourn the effects of their poverty, general brokedness, poor planning, and stinginess. The meeting lasted close to three hours, but my evening was spent much more productively, at Telo, chasing the winning breakaway of Evens S., Colin C., and Shon S.

This evening I got around to watching snatches of the meeting video that is posted online here. It was fascinating because it showed that even in broke-ass towns like PVE, democracy works. And it works with a vengeance.

Ostensibly the council was meeting to figure out how to fill the gaping $4M hole created by the recent vote on Measure D, which, and I’m paraphrasing, was proposed like this: “Are you too cheap to pay for a fire department and EMS? It’s gonna cost you $977 dollars a year.”

The community resoundingly voted “Hell yes we are!” which magically created a budget crater big enough to drive a Range Grazer through. And since no one was really about to eliminate the fire and EMS services, it meant that the council would now have to find “other” places to economize, a fancy euphemism for “eliminate the private security detail a/k/a PVE Police Department that accounts for 54% of the city budget and contract cop services out to LA Sheriff’s Department like everyone else with a brain.”

The problem with that was stomach-churningly obvious, though–it meant that Chief Jeff Kepley, a renowned expert in selectively enforcing laws, and the 39 other PVEPD employees would be out of a job. Any citizen who thought they might show up at this council meeting and applaud the city for finally defunding its private security force soon noticed that almost the entire police department was attending in mufti. Probably not a great place to say, “Fire ’em, one and all!”

Since I only watched part of it, the best line I saw was when Chief Kepley noted that part of the problem with excessive overtime at the department was related to the “difficulty” of hiring permanent positions because, as he delicately put it, other communities “paid more” and working in PVE had “conditions” that some applicants did not prefer, in other words, the residents in PVE treat the police like shit.

You know, the little things that make you love your job–being held in contempt by the people whose leased Maseratis you protect and whose Mexican gardeners you arrest.

There were other gems as well, especially Mayor King and Lame Duck Councilman Goodhart anxiously inquiring about Rancho Palos Verdes and displaying spleen-bursting jealousy about the fact that RPV wasn’t in the same boat they were, that is, broke. But the best part was the speech by the Tax Dude, the only person at the whole meeting who talked about facts with less spin than a beginning ballerina.

You see, PVE’s tax problem began a long time ago, when it had its own fire department. In 1978, the conservative and greedy voters of California got together and passed Proposition 13, which capped property taxes at one percent. So far so good. The fake rich denizens of PVE were able to hold onto a few more bucks while foisting the cost of running an actual community back onto the county and state. Everyone celebrated with a few more lines of cheap coke, a tawdry affair, and a prayer that their worthless children would quit beating up strangers at the surf break.

But after Prop. 13 passed, the voters realized that no one had bothered to work out how the taxes would be apportioned under this new system. In other words, for each dollar taxed, which taxing entity would get how much? The solution was AB 8, which said that taxing entities would get their share of the tax in the same proportion as they got it before Prop. 13 was passed. Back to the future, so to speak.

Well, okay. Except shortly after that, PVE disbanded its fire department, which was an independent taxing entity. And since you couldn’t create a new taxing entity and glom onto the property taxes due to Prop. 13, the clever folks in PVE were without a fire department and without a way to pay for a new one through city revenue. So they contracted with the LA County Fire Department and voted on a separate parcel tax to pay for it.

Until this year, when they didn’t. In other words, they wanted to have their defibrillator and use it, too.

Tax Dude’s basic message, and hats off to his professionalism, was this: “You greedy, broke-ass idiots really fucked yourselves. Even the apartment dwellers in RPV were smart enough to figure this out. Time to either give the Kepstone Kops their pink slip or fire up the tax ovens again. And here’s my invoice, net 30.”

You never saw a sadder looking bunch of broke people in ugly suits unless you’ve spent time at a cut-rate funeral parlor. And when Chief Kepley explained that a huge chunk of his overtime costs were from the Stop Sign Virginity Protection Program, I couldn’t help but laugh thinking that he’ll be blaming the city’s woes on the biker gangsters up until the day they board up the jail and auction off the used uniforms.

I hope they have one that will fit Garret Unno. He could mount it on his wall as a trophy for inadvertently bringing down the PVE PD.

END

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Broke, broker, brokest

March 14, 2017 § 40 Comments

It is always sad when people who pretend to be rich are too poor to pay for luxuries like fire departments and ambulances.

While Garret and Cynthia Unno of Palos Verdes Estates were banging the drum for stricter enforcement of traffic laws, a/k/a EVIL CYCLISTS ARE RUNNING ALL THE STOP SIGNS AND ENDANGERING OUR 5,000-LB. STEEL BOXES, someone forgot to keep the home fires burning, or rather someone forgot to make sure that there was going to be someone to put the home fires out.

In an impressive push to punish skinny, hairless, underwear-clad bicycle riders, the rabidly unfit PVE bike-hating minority whipped its police department into a veritable ticket-issuing orgasm of stop, cite, and pad the local budget. In addition to stationing Deppity Doofus on Paseo del Mar every Saturday to apprehend the criminal Donut Ride biker gang and cite its riders for blasting through stop signs, the hue and cry reached such fitful proportions that all you had to do to get Mayor King to lose it was whisper “Cyclist! Stop sign!” and she’d sound off like a hound with a treed possum.

And the fever was catching. Councilpersons Jim Goodhart and John Rea, although initially of the opinion that perhaps cyclists weren’t much of a problem in PVE, and might even be vulnerable road users deserving protection, eventually caught the Biker Plague Rage and abandoned all pretense of making reasoned decisions about allocation of police resources vis-a-vis bikes and traffic enforcement.

The more tickets that got written, the hotter the fever grew until Garret, Cynthia, Zaragoza Lady, and the other advocates of SAVE OUR STOP SIGNS had logged so many attaboys and attagirls and lockemups and hangemhighs on NextDoor that the servers started to smoke.

Problem was, in this case where there was smoke there wasn’t any fire. If there had been, the LA Fire Department, under contract with the city, would have come and put it out and the nutty SAVE OUR STOP SIGN folks would have realized that the real issue they had in Palos Verdes Estates wasn’t the honor of their violated stop signs but something much more important: Whether or not they were going to have a fire department and EMS to haul them off on a crash cart when their clogged arteries, hypertension, erectile dysfunction, scabies, stroke, aneurysm, gout, and cardiac arrest kicked in.

Because at the same time the Unnos were training their lasers on the STOP SIGN SANCTITY PROJECT, another cabal of tax-hating, Trump-loving, Everything-for-me-Nothing-for-you residents was quietly putting together a measure that would defund the city’s fire and emergency medical services. They quietly drafted the measure. They quietly put it on the ballot. And they quietly laughed all the way home while the STOP SIGN WORSHIPERS, gloating over the daily count of traffic citations, neglected to mobilize their forces to preserve something that actually mattered.

And when the tax measure that supports fire and EMS services was rejected because it couldn’t pass the hilariously high 2/3 vote ceiling, Mayor King, Defeated Councilman Goodhart, and Defeated Councilman Rea (beaten in his quest for city treasurer) realized that they were now facing a budget shortfall of almost $2.5 million out of a total city budget of $17 million, and the cuts would begin in July.

What does this have to do with flatlander transients pedaling into PVE and making a mockery of the modesty and virginal pureness of the city’s stop signs? Well, this: The body blow to the city’s finances may well lower the boom on the city’s police force.

PVE, unlike the ghettos of Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, and Rolling Hills Estates, has its very own police force whereas the other peninsula cities contract out with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. PVE has long been willing to pay for the extra cost, which is significant, because it gives the city extreme control over law enforcement (such as directing its manpower at keeping stop signs safe from bicycles) that simply can’t be exercised over the county sheriff’s department, a massive law enforcement agency that had a budget of almost $3 billion in 2015.

Fortunately, the city has an emergency budget of over $9 million, but even lawyer arithmetic will tell you that this rainy day fund won’t last for more than a few seasons of stop sign protection when it has to cover EMS, fire, and the erection of a crying wall for the politicians who’ve been booted out of office. As the high-G note of panic shrieks through the town, a huge contingent of citizens now plans to attend the March 14 council meeting to protest the outcome of a democratic vote that most were too lazy to participate in.

Maybe in the grand scheme of things spending all of your political capital to attack bicycles via anonymous troll web sites, yappy-yap comment threads on NextDoor, and defense of the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch wasn’t so smart after all, unless of course you never plan on needing fire protection in a place frequently ravaged by wildfires, and unless a population of geriatric couch-loungers never plans on waking in the middle of the night with chest pains.

The silliest part is that despite losing their fire and EMS, the angry minority’s attempts to oust cyclists from the peninsula hasn’t even worked. Last time I checked, the Donut Ride was still going strong. And I heard through the grapevine that last Saturday Deppity Doofus sat and waited at Paseo del Mar a lonnnnng time  for the ride to come by, but for some funny reason it never did.

Weird.

And I guess if your house catches fire, you can call the Unnos, the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch, or the city’s hidden-in-plain-view anonymous Internet troll. I’m sure they’ll hurry right over.

END

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Please take my trip for me

March 13, 2017 § 27 Comments

I got a brochure in the mail from Trek Travel, a company that sells bike tours. And I understand why people hire other people to do their travel planning for them. One reason is safety. No one wants to go to France and get murdered. But all of the other reasons are subsumed in this one reason: People hate travel.

As soon as I hear someone say, “I love travel,” I know they hate it. And when I hear someone say, “I hate travel,” I know they’re being honest. Travel is the most disgusting, demeaning, stressful, awful activity known to man, aside from time trailing and core workouts in the gym. And the indoor trainer. And Zwift.

But in order to get from one far place to the next you have to travel. There’s no getting around it. People like to moan about how bad it’s gotten with tiny airplane seats and cardboard snacks on Southwest handed out from a trash bag, but BITD travel meant that your ship was probably going to sink or get boarded by pirates who would cut your throat, rape you, sell you off into slavery, or all three.

If your ship didn’t sink, your caravan would be attacked and the savages would cut your throat, rape you, sell you off into slavery, or all three. Or your hydrogen-filled airship would blow up and you’d be incinerated. So no, travel isn’t worse than it used to be, unless you’re trying to leave Syria or Ethiopia or North Korea or about 200 other countries, in which case you still stand a real good chance of getting your throat cut, raped, sold off into slavery, or all three. If you’re an American, you only think you have it rough, even though, as Louis CK will tell you, you’re sitting in a flying chair that goes 500 mph through the air, which is amazingly awesome no matter how many bad cups of coffee you swill.

Because people despise travel so much they hire Trek Travel to do the actual traveling. All the customers have to do is show up. They don’t even have to be particularly fit because Trek has tours for everyone, including for people who just want to “ride” an electric bike. The only thing you need to have is money and an overwhelming sense of insecurity and fear of failure.

Bike tours are an especial genre of crazy. Why would anyone join a group of complete idiots in Italy simply so they can ride together? Why not just drive to the neighboring big city and do their Saturday group ride? It will be the exact same assortment of insane people, only at the end of the ride you’ll be able to go home, whereas in Italy the guy who farts too much and bores you to tears about his power output will be your roomie for the next twelve days.

Most importantly, if you’re going to travel a long way to do something fun, you should be really stressed out and miserable getting there, because that makes the fun part more fun. Every time I hear that someone flew 15 hours in first class I feel sorry for them, waking up all refreshed and ready to hit the ground running and such.

They’ll never know the awesomeness of staggering off the plane with deep vein thrombosis only to learn that your bike has been shipped to Kalimantan and won’t be back until February. They’ll never know coach. And for sure they’ll never know coach toilets, those claustrophobic hell holes modeled after parking lot crit porta-potties with paper-thin doors so the flight attendants can hear you grunt and howl as your feet slosh around in the muck on floor and you try to keep your parts from touching the toilet rim.

What’s more world-changing than two days of hard flying, only to end up at a hotel that has lost your reservation and the whole town is booked for the month and the president declared a state of emergency and there’s no hot water? How can you possibly do better than getting the runs, pneumonia, or rickets en route to your destination?

Are you going to remember that seamless Trek Travel itinerary ten years from now, where you were pampered by a wonderful multilingual guide, quaffed perfect cappucino every day, and were encouraged every single pedalstroke of the way up the Mortirolo, or are you going to remember the mugging you got in downtown Palermo when you flatted, couldn’t understand directions to the bike shop, went down a dark alley, got beaten with a tire iron, and had your travel documents stolen along with all your money and your fingerprints?

I guess I’m making the case that, like riding yer fuggin’ bike, it counts to have to overcome stuff. If all you ever eat is dessert, it will sooner or later turn into a surfeit. A bit of nails and broken glass mixed in with your morning gruel never hurt anybody. Being spit on by locals, ripped off by grimy street urchins, solicited by diseased hookers, and harassed by paramilitary narcotraffickers is better than the finest gourmet meal in Tuscany, especially when squeezed in between horribly hard days on the bike that leave you whimpering in a bedbug-infested cabin abutting a freeway.

Travel, real travel, is always an adventure, you can’t pay someone to do it for you, and the only difference between an adventure and a complete fucking catastrophe is the ending.

END

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Shimano defends exploding full carbon wheels that are 100% carbon

March 11, 2017 § 10 Comments

Cycling fans were shocked to see Gianni Moscon’s Shimano full carbon wheels explode in the team time trail on the opening stage of Tirenno-Adriatico, also known as “The Race That No One Knows Exactly Where It Is But Prolly In Europe Somewhere.”

Moscon’s full carbon Shimano wheels, made of 100% carbon and verified through rigorous testing to contain huge amounts of carbon, bigly, detonated mid-race causing him to experience a dramatic bicycle falling off incident and, with the prominent name of Shimano attached to the wheels, also caused Shimano to experience an even more dramatic falling off of sales incident.

The fourteen thousand shards of carbon were carefully collected and sent to G. Lonergan for repair, however, after careful evaluation, he reported from his world famous Duct Tape Labs that “I can fix it, but not in time for tomorrow’s race.”

The shards were then sent to Shimano’s research facility in Fukushima, Japan, where the company released a statement confirming that the wheels had passed rigorous testing under nuclear core meltdown conditions and that the Shimano 100% carbon full carbon wheelmakers were proud of their “flawless record.”

Industry insider Puddin’ McOlskool was skeptical. “Their fuggin’ flawless record ain’t so fuggin’ flawless now, now is it?”

The Shimano statement continued: “PRO is continuing its investigation into the issue we saw with Team Sky at the team time trail of Tirreno-Adriatico. We are continuing to look closely into all factors that could cause the incident.”

Cranky McSlammstem, tech analyst for CitSB, deconstructed the statement. “First off, see, they’re already blaming it on PRO, their wheel division, kind of like your right hand blaming something on your ding-dong that you’re holding. Second off, they’re calling it an issue, when what they mean is ‘our randomly exploding wheels.’ Sounds better, eh? I mean who doesn’t have issues? My old lady has ’em. I have ’em. Our pug has ’em which is why he pees on the couch when he gets excited. But ain’t nobody got a randomly exploding wheel, especially nobody who likes to ride fast on a bicycle. So my two cents is that they got some exploding wheels and that ain’t any good and if I was you I’d ditch my exploding Shimano wheels and get me a pair of FastForward full carbon race wheels, which is made of 100% carbon, purely.”

When asked to pinpoint what might have caused the wheels to randomly explode, both McOlskool and McSlammstem agreed that “Them fuggin’ wheels obviously wasn’t 100% carbon.”

END

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A close shave

March 10, 2017 § 20 Comments

About six months ago I joined Dollar Shave Club. This is an online business where you pay extra money for cheap razors that come with a newsletter filled with fart and manscaping jokes. So, totally worth it.

The idea behind Dollar Shave Club is to convert the average guy into a way-above average guy when it comes to caring about minor appearance areas on your body like, you know, your face. They even did a study that examined men’s attitudes towards shaving. Here are the results:

  1. 98% of men hate to shave.
  2. 98% of men who shave are cheap.
  3. 98% of men who are cheap use a disposable razor an average of six months before replacing it with something sharper, like an old tire or a stick.
  4. 98% of all men ever born think special products for your face are “for sissies.”
  5. 98% of all men would rather scratch their nuts when they itch than get a clean shave (assuming they had to choose, which, thankfully, they do not).

The whole idea behind Dollar Shave Club, which costs a lot more than a dollar, sells a lot of stuff that isn’t for shaving, and isn’t a club, is that once a man actually gets a good, cheap shave, he will change his way of living and eventually buy a more expensive razor, falsely reasoning that if you can get a great shave for a dollar, you can get an even better one for four, much as profamateur masters racers think that if you can go fast with carbon wheels, you can go even faster with carbon everything (that’s actually true).

Anyway, next thing you know you buy more expensive shaving cream, then purchase for the first time ever something called “beard softener,” and then, in an act that will pretty much leave your wife speechless, apply something called “after shave facial cream” which leaves your skin all smooth and smoothy. In short, you’re now a sissy.

You’re hooked on all the implements and then the Ten Dollar Shave Club becomes the Fifty Dollar Shave Club and before you know it you’re trimming your toenails and combing the knots out of your back hair once a month whether you need to or not. This was all happening to me in real time and it made me reflect on what a positive development it is.

You see, from the time I was eighteen until about four years ago I did in fact shave and scrupulously so, but the thing I shaved was my legs. And leg shaving was either something you did carefully, spending an hour in the shower, or you did it quickly, leaving cutter tattoos up and down those tendon thingies on the back of your knee, on your kneecap, and on your Achilles.

With all that time spent hacking up my legs, who had time for face shaving?

Then a few years ago Surfer Dan quit shaving and grew the most thick, luxuriant carpet of golden fur up and down his mighty legs, and guess what? He still rode everyone off his wheel, which meant that the single fake justification for leg shaving was disproven, i.e. shaving doesn’t make you faster. Pretty soon other people were throwing in the razor towel and we started seeing lots of fake racers with hairy legs mixing in with the shaved fake racers.

It was finally cool to be unshorn.

The other good thing about pedaling around with dual shag carpets hanging off his calves was that Surfer offended so many “purists,” especially Velominati wankers who were galled first at getting dropped, galled second at getting dropped by a surfer, and galled third at getting dropped by ol’ gorilla legs.

Anyway, the point is that after all those years of leg shaving I had a lot of pent up hair removal tendencies, and Ten Dollar Shave Club came along at exactly the right time. So now instead of having people look at me funny and ask “How come you shave your legs, old fellow?” and me having to say “Uh bike racer, uh aero, uh facilitates massage, uh prevents infection from road rash, uh uh uh,” they say “Oh my, what smooth skin you have, sailor.”

I like that a lot better. Try it. Maybe you will, too.

END

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Airport laps

March 9, 2017 § 12 Comments

The only thing more Far Side and Escher and Don Martin than sitting in an airport is walking in one, and by walking I mean any ambulation not purposed to get you to a gate, down a ramp, to a potty, to a gewgaw store, or to a sugar-caffeine-beer-grease dispensary.

I got to the airport with hours to spare because it is only by arriving anywhere absurdly early that you can truly risk being late. This principle applies most often to biking, where you get up an hour early to eat and be there in time but end up checking emails and Facebag and tear out of the house ten minutes late and miss the ride unlike EA Sports, Inc. who gets up five minutes before leaving and always makes it if only just barely and even though you have to average 32 to get there.

If being in an airport is Dali and Finnegan’s Wake, then walking around the airport in order to exercise is Dune after the sand worm has swallowed you. One full William P. Hobby lap through all three wings takes about 22 minutes and 14.567 seconds, approximately.

Certain sections are more challenging than others. The toughest section is passing the police outpost. The police outpost is hard scoot by to because you already look terroristic, walking aimlessly without a soy latte, and they keep a bicycle in front of the cop station to entrap bicycle terrorists. They know that as you’re wandering around you won’t be able to resist stopping and examining the police bike’s components and especially the tread wear and condition of the chain because it is sparkly clean (no mud puddles or road grime in the airport) and really, do the tires even wear at all when rolling on carpet and glassy tile?

Oh, and is it tubeless? And what make is the helmet dangling from the bars?

Once you stop to check out the bicycle your subversive credentials are proven beyond doubt, and they look at you funny and ask what you’re doing even though all you really want to know is: IS THERE A KOM FOR INSIDE THE AIRPORT?

They take notes and ask to see your ID and boarding pass again.

The first airport laps are toughest because every few yards there is a restaurant baiting you with all of the cuisine America has to offer, Tex-Mex, BBQ, Chinese food a/k/a fried chicken lumps in orange sugar sauce, burgers, Chick-Fil-A homophobic fried chicken, and coffee. You have to grit your teeth and focus on not stopping, especially since once you cross the Texas border the giant Trumpian wall prevents any barbecue from escaping, especially to California.

After you’ve plugged your ears, Ulysses-like, the pizza and burger sirens can no longer be heard and you can focus on other things, like finding new and circuitous routes through the chairs, or memorizing which gates have phone charging banks, or noting the people who seem mostly to die in the next 72 hours due to triple-wide obesity, or, after two hours of walking, finally breaking down in front of Peet’s and ordering a coffee, gruel, some warmed up oxygen and a side of toasted water.

Because it’s never too soon to get back to profamateur race weight. SoCal, here I come.

END

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Goode ol’ time in Texas

March 8, 2017 § 16 Comments

You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the barbecue out of the boy. Science has proven that Texas children possess a barbecue gene which instills in them a deep craving for brisket, jalapeno sausage, and pecan pie.

I have occasionally tried to satisfy the barbecue gene in SoCal but that is like trying to satisfy the sushi gene in Nebraska. SoCal barbecue is basically boiled meat with ketchup.

Yum.

As part of my new Masters Profamateur Training Program I now get a lot of rest, and what better place to rest from cycling than Houston, where they actually pay a bounty for cyclist pelts. In Houston you can also rest from your strict profamateur diet of gruel, warm oxygen, and toasted water by visiting Goode Company BBQ.

Goode Company, also known as “heaven” or “paradise” is the perfect place to refill your arteries with crudescence of plaque and other “deep vein” fuel sources that will act as energy reserves later in the racing season and during angioplasty and stents.

My recommendations for training foods when you’re back in Texas:

  1. Brisket
  2. Jalapeno sausage
  3. Pinto beans
  4. Tater salad
  5. Jalapeno bread
  6. Big ol’ slab of pecan pie

Be sure to keep a bed and soft pillow nearby, as 10 minutes after eating, all the blood in your body will sprint to your gut causing you to fall over and snore loudly.

END

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